The Hudson’s Bay Company is a Canadian retail business that was established in 1670. It is one of the oldest companies in North America and is known for its department stores and iconic striped blankets.
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Today’s Daily Dose short history film covers the Hudson’s Bay Company, which is the oldest continuously run business in North America. The filmmaker has included the original voice over script to further assist your understanding:
Today on The Daily Dose, The Hudson’s Bay Company.
As fur coats, stoles and beaver hats became all the rage in 17th century Europe, Prince Rupert of England convinced his cousin King Charles II, along with several merchants and wealthy noblemen, to give The Hudson’s Bay Company exclusive fur trading rights to the region of Hudson Bay and her vast river tributaries that dissect much of present-day Canada. Known as Rupert’s Land, the Hudson’s Bay Company was officially chartered on May 2nd, 1670, two years after the company’s first ships, the Eaglet and the Nonsuch, were dispatched into the region to establish trading posts—mainly at the mouthes of major rivers that fed into the bay, which during the summer months, drew native peoples to the posts to trade furs for European goods ranging from tools, guns, textiles and foods, including the now-iconic point blanket. Trading in coins known as “Made Beaver,” each coin was valued as the equivalent of one prime male beaver pelt.
Beyond the lethal impact of foreign diseases on native populations, the practice of fur trading encouraged natives to abandon their traditional way of life for a heavy reliance on European goods for their survival, prompting outbreaks of intertribal violence when native fur trappers moved out of their traditional territories in search of fur-bearing animals. The company also faced stiff competition from the French in southern Rupert’s Land, until the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht acknowledged England’s exclusive claim to the Hudson Bay region. Other competitors soon followed in the name of the North West Company, until the two competitors were formally merged in 1821, which extended their trapping and trading monopoly into the Northwest Territories.
Now considered the oldest, continuously operated retail company in North America, the privately-held Hudson’s Bay Company now owns and operates some 239 department stores in Canada and the United States—some 40 million square feet of retail space—including Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks OFF 5th, as well as The Bay, which is a Canadian e-commerce marketplace for luxury goods. Under the banner of HBC Properties and Investments, the company’s real estate and investments portfolio business, the company manages the real estate and tangible assets of each independent division, including its property development division, Streetworks Development, making the Hudson’s Bay Company, an enduring mainstay in North American history.
And there you have it, the Hudson’s Bay Company, today on The Daily Dose.